30 - PERU
Lima - 09/07/04 - 07/08/04
Next day we headed south for Lima and had the most amazing morning. The sun was shinning, the sky was blue, the road was beautiful......paved too hurrah! And the snow capped mountains of the Cordillera Blanca just stunning. This is why we ride a bike, for days like these.
Spent ages taking pics and mooching around in the sunshine.
As we went back down we could see the cloud and mist that hangs over the coast at this time of year. Twenty miles to the sea and the sun had gone, it was cold and damp.
We went through an area that was almost a moonscape with acres of corn and chillies lying out to dry. Further down by the river were the fields where they grow.
Back to the Pan-American and we realized we weren't going to make Lima before it went dark. Took a right in to the town of Haucho. Bit of a dump. Nowhere to stay. Took the road along the sea and ended up in some Naval base. Took the road up the hill and ended up in a shantytown. Found our way back to the Pan-American a bit further along. Sitting at the junction, opposite a petrol station, wondering what to do. A lorry moves and I see a sign "The best hotel in Haucho". Well that's what we want! We scoot across and pull up, looks a bit odd so I go to investigate.
Amazing! Little bungalows set round gardens and a huge swimming pool and it's so quiet. R negotiates through the tankers on the petrol station forecourt to follow a Land Cruiser round to the car park. Pulls up almost outside our bungalow.
Massive room, comfy bed and best of all a bath with loads of hot water! Safe.
We were about two hours away from Lima but had to go through some of the worst fog yet. It was a real shame as the road goes high over a sand dune and is supposed to have amazing views. Have to say we didn't really care at the time, we were too worried about being missed by lorries. There was a car in front of us and we followed it's hazard lights. We were only about 30 ft behind it and sometimes it completely disappeared. Not fun. Eventually we came down again and made our way through the sprawl of Lima. We very cleverly managed to stay on the Pan-American until exactly the right point to come off. Straight in to Miraflores, the nice bit of Lima, all the shops and bars and tourists!!
Found a hotel and set about the task of getting tyres.
This is not as simple as it may sound. We have been thinking about it for months now. Massive BMW dealer in Panama City - no tyres. BMW dealer in Quito - no tyres. Sent us to tyre shop that couldn't even get the right size. They are unusual, but knowing this you might think that BMW would have some at their dealerships.......no.
In the end we have had to have them sent from BMW in San Diego at vast expense.
We will now carry them to La Paz in Bolivia or as far as we can get out of the old ones.
Within half an hour of finding a hotel we were in a Honda dealer with our new friend Jorge having no luck with the tyre problem.
We had met him through the bike web site we use and he did all he could to help us.
Whilst we were waiting for the inevitable no, Jorge was most disappointed to discover we don't play golf. No to tennis too. What about sailing? Yes, that would be good.
Next morning he picked us up at 10 in his gold Volvo with tinted windows and a fake gun. Took us on a tour of the old city centre, a visit to the Convento de los Descalzos and out to the yacht club for lunch. Fabulous lunch of Pisco Sours and lots of fish and seafood. Jorge chose and we had very traditional Peruvian dishes. They have the most delicious food.
Then it was on the launch and out to the 50ft yacht. Well, we were expecting an afternoon of hard work and probably being shouted at a bit, being used to our dear friend Captain Juliette. But no, he has a crew! R had to help a little as there wasn't a full complement that day but mostly we sat about.
The US Navy were in town so we thought we'd see how close we could get to the USS Ronald Reagan before we were intercepted. Not very close was the answer, the coast guard came and chased us off pretty smartish.
We finished off our day with our first visit to the cinema in nearly a year. CineBar in fact. Pisco Sours and beer, big comfy chairs and Spiderman 2! We like Lima.
For ages we couldn't work out why there were so many Americans around. They were not the usual tourist type and far more men than women. It finally twigged.......... US Navy on shore leave. Funny bunch though, all baseball caps and football shirts and looking even more out of place than usual. There were coaches doing circuits of Lima we think, dropping them off and picking them up at certain points. It was really weird, we'd walk round a corner and be confronted by small town America in the heart of cosmopolitan Lima. 6000 people on the Ronald Reagan apparently, so it took a while for them all to have some time off.
The tyres were ordered and on route via FedEx so we just had to wait and hope that customs in Lima would be kind.
The Copa America was on so we decided we'd get tickets for the semi-final. JB had arrived in town, so he came too, Brazil versus Uruguay. It was a pretty good atmosphere but we were expecting it to be wild. Seems the Brazilians and a few other country's don't take it all that seriously, none of the big star players were there, Paraguay sent their B team! Can you imagine England sending the B team to the European Cup........second thoughts maybe that would have been a good idea.
Well we picked Uruguay, so of course they lost on penalties! Never seen a live penalty shoot out before so it was quite exciting. Best thing though, they don't have extra time. 90 mins, still a draw, straight to penalties, much better.
Jorge and his Dutch wife Marlise invited the three of us out to their country house in the hills above Lima for lunch. It was gorgeous. Sunny, delicious food, more Pisco Sours and great company. The house is lovely, reminded me of the houses in Spain. Huge garden with swimming pool, tennis courts and a fake windmill with underground swimming pool and sauna! Really crazy.
Jorge and Marlise were unbelievably kind to us. Jorge is quite a foody and took us all over the place to try Peruvian foods. One place for good Cebiche, another for shrimp. A coffee shop for pudding and deli's and supermarkets to show me all the ingredients. It was great. He showed me a wonderful Peruvian cook book which is now sitting at home waiting for our return.
We finally got the tyres released from customs after paying another $120!! They are the most expensive tyres ever. Now just had to work out how to carry them. After some very helpful advice from JB about me wearing them!...... R devised a way to sling them over the back seat so they are hanging either side of the panniers. So we are now even wider and slightly worried about wearing them out on the corners before we put them on!
Dan arrived in town for a couple of days before flying to NY for a couple of weeks.
Inevitable big night out was had. Have to say we had got out of the habit and R had taken antibiotics the day before to try to finally get rid of some nasty food poisoning bugs he'd got a few weeks before. We bailed at about two, left him with a couple of chicas. Three hours later heard the familiar "alright kids?" as he walked past our door.
The old centre of Lima is very grand, open plazas and palaces. Managed to see the changing of the guard at the Palacio de Gobierno. It was very comical. The guards have the most gaudy blue and red uniforms with lots of gold braid and they do a slow motion goose step, with the highest kick I've ever seen. Really bizarre. Just shows, the military is weird the world over.
Mooched round the Cathedral. It has a really beautiful side chapel where Francisco Pizarro, evil conquistador and founder of Lima is buried. The walls are covered in tiny mosaic of ships landing, treasure and Indians being hauled off, conquistadors everywhere. Such delicate work telling such a brutal story.
Talking of Brutal, next stop was the Museo del Tribunal de la Santa Inquisicion..............oh no, not the comfy chair!!
Nasty stuff. We had to take the guided tour in Spanish which was a laugh, but the student who was taking us round was very good and kept checking we were ok. Only three types of torture and two punishments were ever used in Peru..........so that's alright then! We went down under the building to the tiny corridors and dungeons where people were imprisoned. There were the usual creepy, tattered dummy's, sitting at the bottom of six foot shafts. I always freak myself out imagining they're going to move, suddenly look me straight in the eye.
Have to say, think I'd have given in and renounced Satan and all his little pixies pretty damn quick!
Had a bit of trouble leaving Lima, got comfy again. Have come to the conclusion we may be city people. I certainly am. Something oddly comforting about the familiar scent as you walk past a department store. Or maybe I just miss shopping! Did have a little spree whilst we were in civilisation, jeans, shirts, oh, and more heels. Also had loads of hair cut off, whizzy!!
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